The best way to foster serendipitous innovation in hybrid and distant groups

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is CEO of the boutique future-proofing consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts, which helps forward-looking leaders keep away from harmful threats and missed alternatives. A best-selling writer, his latest e book is Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage. We requested Dr. Tsipursky how leaders can emulate the spontaneity of in-person worker thought technology for hybrid and distant groups. Right here’s what he shared:

When leaders weigh the professionals and cons of distant groups versus in-person work, one matter of concern is the water cooler impact.

In workplace environments, workers from completely different departments usually run into one another, spark conversations about their particular person initiatives, and spontaneously generate what could possibly be game-changing concepts for the corporate.

“I don’t see how we will substitute the serendipitous thought technology of hallway conversations. If we don’t return to the workplace full-time, we’re going to lose out to rivals who achieve this and acquire the advantages of serendipity.” That’s what “Saul,” chief product officer of a 1,500-employee enterprise software program firm, instructed me at his firm’s planning assembly on the post-vaccine return to workplace.

I instructed Saul that it is a frequent problem amongst organizations, and one that may solely be addressed by adopting best practices for innovation within the return to the workplace and the way forward for work.

The issue was that whereas leaders tried to pursue innovation throughout lockdowns, additionally they tried to impose their pre-existing office-based strategies on digital work. When that didn’t work, they pushed for a full-time in-office schedule after vaccines grew widespread, regardless of the plain risks to retention and recruitment that motion represents.

Employee survey results present that 25 to 35 % of workers need distant work solely and 50-65 % wish to return to the workplace with a hybrid schedule of a day or two onsite. And 40 to 55 % felt able to stop in the event that they didn’t get their most popular schedules, and certainly many have resigned when employers tried to pressure them to return. To place it mildly, it’s laborious to innovate when a big a part of your workforce quits, and the remaining are demoralized on account of excessive turnover charges.

In-person serendipitous thought technology

Many leaders deployed conventional strategies to facilitate serendipitous conversations throughout lockdowns. These included encouraging such conversations amongst crew members, organizing crew conferences hoping that members would have such discussions on the sidelines, and even scheduling common videoconference completely satisfied hours with small breakout teams.

Nevertheless, these strategies—as leaders quickly found—are merely transposing in-office practices on the digital atmosphere. They don’t work for one thing as spontaneous as serendipitous innovation.

Digital serendipitous thought technology

How can leaders foster the useful, unintended collaborations groups as soon as loved in particular person—for his or her distant or hybrid groups?

To succeed, leaders should undertake a local digital format to faucet into the underlying motivations that facilitate the creativity, spontaneity and collaboration behind serendipitous innovation. This implies creating a selected venue for it and incentivizing collaboration with out forcing it. 

For instance, organizations utilizing Microsoft Groups would have every crew create a team-specific channel for members to share modern concepts related for the crew’s work. When anybody has an thought, they’d share that concept within the pertinent channel.

Everybody can be inspired to concentrate to notifications in that channel. Seeing a brand new publish, they’d test it out. In the event that they discovered it related, they’d reply with further ideas, constructing on the preliminary thought. Responses would snowball, and sufficiently good concepts would then result in extra formal thought cultivation and analysis.

This method combines a local digital format with folks’s pure motivations to contribute, collaborate and declare credit score. The preliminary poster is motivated by the potential of sharing an concept that is perhaps acknowledged as sufficiently modern, sensible and helpful to implement, with some revisions. The contributors, in flip, are motivated by the pure need to provide recommendation, particularly recommendation that’s seen to and helpful for others of their crew, enterprise unit, and even the entire group.

This dynamic additionally matches nicely with the completely different personalities of optimists and pessimists. You’ll discover that the optimists will typically be those to publish preliminary concepts. Their power is modern and entrepreneurial pondering, however their flaw is being risk-blind to the potential issues within the thought. In flip, pessimists will overwhelmingly serve to construct on and enhance the unique concepts, declaring potential flaws and providing tweaks and options that assist to handle them.


If you wish to acquire an innovation benefit in the way forward for work, keep away from the tendency to stay to pre-pandemic innovation methodology. Best practices for innovation within the return to workplace—resembling serendipitous thought technology—will allow your distant and hybrid groups to realize a aggressive benefit.

For extra insights and inspiration from immediately’s main entrepreneurs, take a look at EO on Inc. and extra articles from the EO blog

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